NASA Robot to Inspect Space Station Using Gecko Technology

If it weren’t for nature, many of the technologies we use today wouldn’t exist in the first place. NASA’s latest plan to revolutionize the way we repair the International Space Station once again proves we only need to respect the planet’s ways, and learn from it to move forward.
NASA's future robot called LEMUR could inspect and maintain installations on the station 1 photo
Photo: NASA
It’s quite straightforward, people; protect it, harvest it in a sustainable way, learn from it and it will pay off big time.

Researchers at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, are working on the ultimate system of stickiness, and geckos inspire it. Sure, we all know them for their specialized toe pads that enable them to climb smooth and vertical surfaces and even cross indoor ceiling with ease. There’s something else that we find interesting about the lizards, though.

Did you know their color vision is 350 times more sensitive than human color vision? Now that’s what you call High Definition view right there. Nevertheless, their stickiness value is what inspired NASA so let’s go back to that. Here’s what they found:

Thanks to tiny hairs on the bottom of geckos' feet, these lizards can cling to walls with ease, and their stickiness doesn't wear off with repeated usage. JPL engineer Aaron Parness and colleagues used that concept to create a material with synthetic hairs that are much thinner than a human hair. When a force is applied to make the tiny hairs bend, that makes the material stick to a desired surface.

What is the meaning of this stick-madness, you may wonder. Well, it’s here to revolutionize the way astronauts fix their ship, mainly the International Space Station.

Currently just a rendering, the future robot called LEMUR - which stands for Limbed Excursion Mechanical Utility Robot - could inspect and maintain installations on the station. The robot would stick to the outside using a gecko-inspired gripping system.

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